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One I Didn’t Send

“I know you hate that.”

Texted after months of silence

So many assumptions built into those words

But you’re wrong about what I hate

And I think part of you knows it

What I hate is that I’ve seen so much of this before

For both you and her

I’ve seen her post picture after picture

Captioned with proclamations of healing

And restoration and forever love

And best lives lived

I’ve seen her refuse to slow down

I’ve seen her pull her children along into fast marriage

Refusing to wait, refusing to exercise any caution

For their sake or her own

Insisting only her myopic view counts

Shutting down anyone urging careful consideration

And I’ve seen you convince yourself

And most people around you – including me sometimes

That everything is much more okay than it really is

When someone didn’t really value you

Another person who loved the spotlight and attention

Who would violate your trust and break your heart

You have learned more than once

That life is a series of betrayals

hate that I see that lesson bearing down on you again

Still off in the distance, now just a rumble

Of the coming heartbreak, the deeper betrayal by one

Gifted in words that soften, cajole, and charm

They keep telling me she’s posting picture after picture of you

Captioned with familiar proclamations of healing

And restoration and forever love

And best lives lived

Words that lift you high onto a pedestal

To heights that at first seem exhilarating

But will become terrifying when she knocks it down

You have so far to fall

And you will have been alone up there so long

That’s what I hate

hate what she did to the last person she lofted on that pedestal

And the one before that

hate that you either don’t see the pattern

Or don’t care what it means for you and your girls and her kids too

hate that it doesn’t seem to matter to you

She told us a story again

The last time we were all together

One I wish I had never heard, let alone on repeat

One that had haunted the edges of my memory

How she pushed one she accused of abusing her

Grinding against him against the wall of her new house

Until he gave in, and she is still bragging about her power

Years later, still laughing about texting his new partner

That she was sending him home

With her juices still on him

hate what she is doing to you now

Setting you up for the same fall

hate this feeling that I’ve seen it all before

I also hate that part of you knows this,

But you still don’t trust your inner strength and value enough

To listen to the part of you that wants real healing

That knows love when she sees it

Giving instead to the part that works hard to explain away

The lies you’ve recognized already

The spin you’re already feeling at work

Ignoring the part that recognizes

That the way she talks about her daughters’ fathers

Is the same way she’ll one day demonize you

Not only to her daughters but to yours

Pretending to take responsibility for problems in ways

That confirm her role as the constant victim

hate that you’ve decided to pretend along with her

That what I hate has anything to do with your genders

That the story you’ve decided to believe makes her the victim again

hate that you’re ignoring the part of you

That knows I have always been on your side

And that I was on her side for decades as well

That I also kept defending and believing her despite

A growing knowing deep down

Maybe born the first time I heard that story

Shoved away because she was strong and fierce and scared

And she needed so much help with all those kids

Compounded when she insisted she would only be my friend

If I only said words that supported and affirmed her decisions

Even the ones that were reckless and dangerous and terrifying

It was too late when I saw that she had become twisted in a way

That I will never be able to trust

That her gift for words and empathy had somehow become poisoned

I learned only afterward how she spun a story

One way to me and another to my sister

Widening a rift she knew was torturing both of us

Working to prevent it from healing

Salting a wound she kept teasing open

She seemed to really believe we would never figure out her lies

hate that there was nothing I could do to stop you from believing her

Even though I think you know enough to realize

Believing her is dangerous

I hate that you kept insisting

I should give you a list of the lies she’s told

When so many of them are right there in words you read

And the stories you heard too

You wanted the chance to defend her

But I just wanted you to slow down and be careful

There was no point in making a list

When I know you had already decided to discount those lies

Even the simplest, clearest ones

Like who called who first

hate that you married her anyway

Even though part of you knows

Part of you recognizes where this will all end up

For now, there is nothing to say except I miss you

And I can’t even say that to you directly anymore

I miss never using contractions

I miss spelling words alternating letters between us

I miss asking if you want to come over

I miss the rhythm of decades of friendship

It breaks my heart when my kids ask

Why you never call anymore

And I don’t tell them that I haven’t answered when you did

That I won’t answer if you do again

That I really can’t right now

Because you cut and pasted some of the last text messages I sent you

I know you meant to send them to her

Instead, you sent them back to me

I know she influences every word you write

She has entirely consumed you

But I won’t let her continue to use and manipulate me

I won’t keep watching the mocking look in her eyes echoed in yours

Live on screen like they were

When you sent me a message together last Mother’s Day

I won’t watch her use and manipulate you

In a hundred ways, just one of which is to get to me

I still don’t know why getting to me is so important to her

You deserve so much more than this

I should probably stop hoping against hope

That when she knocks down your pedestal

You’ll decide to let me know

Because I am still on your side

Just like I always have been

The last thing you texted me was that I broke your heart

I wish that wasn’t true

You both broke mine together

If there ever comes a day when she breaks your heart

I will still be here

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One for Home and Love

This time of year

No matter where I am

I am homesick

Wrestling with staying present

And making room for the ache

So, today, I am praying

For all of us

For those whose people

Are scattered far and wide

For those who are far from home

In service or adventure

For those missing loved ones

Newly gone this year or

Long absent from holiday tables

For those whose people are a little too close

And have a little too much togetherness

May we look for the silver lining

Searching for the best

Giving the benefit of the doubt

Even when it seems so unlikely deserved

May we work through the moments of awkwardness

And imperfect relationships

Disappointment and pain

May we notice the moments

Of grace and peace and mercy

May we create those moments ourselves

And recognize the efforts of others to create them

May we treasure them deeply in our hearts

May we remember the suffering

May our eyes open to new ways

To bring healing and light and joy

May we remember the baby born in Bethlehem

The One who held together humanity and divinity—

The One who always was and always is and ever shall be

Love come down

The One who calls us to be Love as well

May we recognize every opportunity

To wrestle well with the hard things

To find the best way forward

To honor and love and trust and hope

May we live our way ever more deeply

Into the Way of the One
That has come and keeps coming

Our senses ever more aware of the thin places

Where heaven meets earth

And we are home

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One for Jen

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We were Florida girls
That Maine water cold on our feet
We hesitated to fully immerse
But we recounted the story of Edith
Like fiction
She, with her New England grit,
Plunged in daily
Stroked across to the far shore’s tree line
Strong in the waves and current
Conquering the elements
There and back again
Safe and stronger
Her blood runs in your veins

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One on standing up

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These words today
On my way back from
A meeting in Chapel Hill
On a wall on a Chinese restaurant
Near one of my favorite bookstores

I’m not sure about the graffiti on top
Echoed on the dumpster of the gas station
Across the street
But “Kill Trump” reads clearly
Wrong-headed and unAmerican
(A label I generally despise)

Oppose Trump, yes.
March in the streets, if that’s your thing.
Protest his every action, if you must.
Hold him accountable to the constitution
He has not yet sworn to uphold
By whose authority we elected him.

But do not threaten violence.
Do not deface property.
Do no harm, and permit no harm to be done.

 

Remember Keisha Thomas
Who used her black body like a shield
Protecting a man wearing a symbol
Of oppressing black bodies
Refusing to allow violence against him
Even from – especially from – those on her side.

keisha-thomas

 

Remember Amina Amdeen
Who proudly wore her hijab
As she stood up between attackers
And a giant protester carrying a sign
Declaring himself “Proud to be Deplorable”
Protected by her loud voice and her tiny body

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Take them as your example.
Protest, yes. But do it peacefully.
Disagree loudly and proudly and insistently
But do it without violence.

And if others refuse to do so,
Put yourself in harms’ way to
Insist on peace and nonviolence.

Stay on the high road.
Cling to the right way.
Scream and yell your anger.
Lament and wail your sadness.
Speak up and speak out and
Stand up tall – get in the way.

But every time
Go high when others go low.
Even when those others
Are on your “side.”
Especially then.
Stand tall. Stand up.
Every time.

Deplorable photo credit: 
http://media.cmgdigital.com/shared/lt/lt_cache/thumbnail/728/img/photos/2016/11/14/59/dd/Joseph-Weidknecht.jpg

 

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Last night, I tucked my little blond boy into bed
When he woke up in the night, I laid beside him to nurse him
I kissed his soft cheeks and breathed deep his baby scent, still lingering
I gave him his blanket and his snuggle whale
And I left him safe and sleeping again

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Oh, Rehan, you could not tuck your boys into bed last night
You dressed them instead for an escape attempt
Desperate to keep them safe, desperate to get away
You carefully tied on Aylan’s little brown shoes
You slipped his red shirt over his head
The one that would make him easy to spot
In case you were separated, even for a moment
I can see you so clearly as you walked onto the boat
You holding Aylan’s right hand, Abdullah his left
Galip held close to your other side
All of you praying for safe passage, huddled close together
Praying for a miracle that did not come

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Photo Source

They found you all this morning, Rehan
Lifeless on the beach in Bodrum
As I took Benny out for donuts
Oblivious to your story
Tired from caring for my own babies
In my safe, warm, suburban home
Far from the violence and horrors you fled

The whole world saw Aylan’s picture
His tiny body shaped so like my Benny’s
Curled with his bottom a little in the air
The way little boys sometimes sleep
When they were babies only yesterday
His red shirt hiked up a little, showing his little boy belly
His little fingers so still, his little eyes shut tight, pressed in the sand

The way I left Benny sleeping last night safe
While you fled for your lives
Aylan’s shoes, the ones you tied so carefully
Were still on his tiny feet
He really could have been sleeping
Except that his dark head was not safe on a pillow
But on sand in the quiet waves lapping the beach
Where he washed up after your boat capsized

My heart breaks for his loss
For the loss of his brother
For the your loss,
For Abdullah’s heartbreak as he reclaims your bodies
My pain at the sight of your little boy
Curled up like he might be sleeping
Is nothing compared to the terror you must have felt
As you led your boys onto the boat
As you realized it was going down
As the water swept them away from you
As you took your last breath
And we are to blame
We who know what is happening
We who stand by
And we must find a better way
We must find a path to action
So there are no more little boys washing up on beaches

But today, I will cry the tears you cannot
Today, I will hold my little boy the way you held Galip
I will kiss his head like you kissed Aylan’s
Today, I mourn your boys and you and all the others
Today, I lament
Today, I grieve
You, who were lost at sea
You, whose little boys washed up on the shore
Today, I can only weep for you
And for your little boys, so like mine

aylan1 (1) aylan1
Photo Source

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One on What Love Is

They asked him to prioritize:
Which was the greatest commandment
And I doubt he even hesitated
Before he threw the gauntlet twice:
Love the Lord your God
With everything in you, he said
And the second beat the same drum
Love your neighbor as yourself
And so when he restored his dear friend
The one who denied him three times
He asked him the same question, over and over
Do you love me?
Do you love me?
Do you love me?
And each time his friend answered yes
He repeated this charge
Feed my sheep
Feed my lambs
Feed my sheep
Greater love, he told them another time
Has no man than this
That he lays down his life for his friends
And then he gave the greatest love
Pouring out his life for his friends
And so the Way should be clear
Love first,
Love above all else
That instruction to Peter
Turns the second commandment into the first
The way to love God
Is to love others as ourselves
To feed them
To sacrifice for them,
To lay our lives down
To choose the hard path
To choose the path of sacrifice
To give the benefit of the doubt
The same way we give it to ourselves
To give grace first
To forgive before the apology
To always always turn toward mercy
Even when we want to put other things first
Truth first
Or Justice
Or Being Right
Even when we think we know a better way
Even when this way seems impossibly hard
Insurmountably steep
Even when it seems we will lose ourselves in the giving
The way is still Love
The path is still clear:
Love like he did
Because he first loved us
The greatest commandment is Love
And the second is like it
Love your neighbor
As yourself
Feed my sheep
Greater love has no man than this

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Let the light shine

May we make it welcome

Let its warmth flood

Each place long gone cold

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Let the light shine

All around each of us

Let it dry out pure

All the dank, dark mold

Let the light shine

May it grow us upward

Feeding every seed

Meant to grow and bloom

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Let the light shine

Blazing in its brilliance

May its burning glow

Fill up every room

Let the light shine

Out of each bright vessel

Let it stretch out wide

Across the open space

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Let the light shine

Its beams illuminate us

May Love’s brightness

Fall on every face

Let the light shine

Dazzling as it dances

Drawing every gaze

Toward its holy source

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Let the light shine

Onward toward the morning

As its gleaming guides us

Along the sublime course

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